Research Tracks Impact Of Air Pollution On Climate
Clouds affected by spikes in air pollution levels can lead to reduced precipitation during dry conditions, as well as increased rain and snow during times and in places already being affected by severe storms, claims a new study published Sunday in the journal Nature Geoscience.
The study, which was led by University of Maryland Professor of Atmospheric and Oceanic Science Zhanqing Li, claims to provide “the first clear evidence of how aerosols — soot, dust and other small particles in the atmosphere — can affect weather and climate,” according to a November 13 press release that also states that the findings “have important economic and water resource implications for regions across the United States and around the world, say the researchers and other scientists.”
“Using a 10-year dataset of extensive atmosphere measurements from the U.S. Southern Great Plains research facility in Oklahoma [run by the Department of Energy's Atmospheric Radiation Measurement program] — we have uncovered, for the first time, the long-term, net impact of aerosols on cloud height and thickness, and the resultant changes in precipitation frequency and intensity” Li, who is also affiliated with Beijing Normal University, said in a statement.
According to Li, the findings of this study, which was conducted using regional ground measurements, were consistent with a separate study completed using NASA global satellites. He says that the results of these two studies combined “attest to the needs of tackling both climate and environmental changes that matter so much to our daily life.”
“Our findings have significant policy implications for sustainable development and water resources, especially for those developing regions susceptible to extreme events such as drought and flood,” Li added. “Increases in manufacturing, building of power plants and other industrial developments are often accompanied with increases in pollution whose adverse impacts on weather and climate, as revealed in this study, can undercut economic gains.”
Along with Li, Feng Niu and Yanni Ding, also of the University of Maryland; Jiwen Fan of Pacific Northwest National Laboratory; Yangang Liu of Brookhaven National Laboratory, Upton, NY; and Daniel Rosenfeld of The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, are credited as co-authors of the research, which was sponsored by the Department of Energy, NASA, the National Science Foundation and the Chinese Ministry of Science and Technology.
Image 2: This graphic created by a University of Maryland-led team of researchers, illustrates their new finding that increases in air pollution and other particulate matter in the atmosphere can strongly affect cloud development in ways that reduce precipitation in dry regions or seasons, while increasing rain, snowfall and the intensity of severe storms in wet regions or seasons. Credit: University of Maryland
On the Net: